Study: Amino Acid Supplement May Curb Addicts' Urge to Gamble

An amino acid supplement, widely available in health food stores, may be the key to helping gamblers fend off their addiction, according to a recent study.

The amino acid supplement, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), may help pathological gambler’s kick the habit, according to new research from the University of Minnesota.

In an eight-week trial, researchers gave 27 people increasing doses of the amino acid, which has been shown to impact the chemical glutamate in the brain, often associated with the brain’s recognition of being rewarded. By the end of the trial, 60 percent of those studied no longer had the urge to gamble.

Of the 16 participants who responded positively to the amino acid the first time around, 13 agreed to continue in a blind study for six more weeks. At the end of the second round of studies, 83 percent who received the supplement continued to report fewer urges to gamble, and nearly 72 percent of those who took the placebo went back to gambling.

Former studies using NAC have shown its ability to control drug addictions in animals. The University of Minnesota study is currently investigating whether the drug could help methamphetamine users quit.